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Thibs On Rose: ‘I think He’s There Now’


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s a couple of months late, of course, but Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is apparently back to being, well … Derrick Rose.

So says Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who recently worked Rose out and had rave reviews for the former MVP and All-Star point guard who missed the entire season recovering from ACL surgery.

Granted, this is the news that Bulls fans were hoping for in February, March and even early April, as they sweated out whether or not Rose would return in time to help the Bulls in their playoff push that ended at the hands of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Mid-June is obviously a little late for the Bulls to do anything but crank up the expectations for next season, what with the news that Rose is back to his old explosive self again. More from Jon Greenberg of

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose’s speed and explosiveness are back to where the former MVP feels like himself again.

“I worked him out about a week ago,” Thibodeau said in a phone conversation Thursday. “It was great.”

Rose missed the entire season rehabbing from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during last year’s playoffs. His longer-than-expected absence, and the ensuing debate about it, was the overwhelming storyline during a challenging Bulls season that ended in a second-round loss to the Miami Heat.

Last season is over, and Thibodeau is looking to the future.

“Watching the way he’s moving now, there’s a confidence,” Thibodeau said. “[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he’s there now. He feels great, and that’s the most important thing.”

He said Rose is “running, lifting, playing and shooting. His day is full.”

Thibodeau also cleared up one bit of information that bothered me throughout the Rose playoffs/comeback drama. We kept hearing about how Rose was dominating in practice after being cleared by the Bulls’ medical staff to resume normal activity. I couldn’t imagine him being that impressive and not returning to action. Thibodeau confirmed my suspicion:

“The kid was being totally honest,” Thibodeau said. “At the end of the day, you have to respect that. He wanted to be out there very badly. But no one knew when he would be ready, including him. It was a smart decision to wait. If you’re not quite sure, and you’re going to err, err on the side of caution. That’s what he did. And now he feels great.”

While reports speculated that Rose was dominating his teammates in the gym, Thibodeau says now that wasn’t the case.

“He was practicing and he was good sometimes, but he also wasn’t able to make the kinds of plays he likes to make,” Thibodeau said. “No one is more explosive and can change direction like him. He had to be capable of doing that.

“That’s what makes him so unique, how quick and explosive he is,” Thibodeau continued. “He can jump sideways to avoid contact. He’s always hopping around. That’s a lot on your knee. You have to be comfortable doing that. He takes off and he doesn’t take long to go from securing the ball to exploding and blowing by somebody.”

The criticism of Rose seemed overblown at the time, a point that Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson and the rest of his teammates made clear during the firestorm. And all of this latest news only reinforces the point that we should have taken Rose at his word when he said he was not ready to return in a fashion he saw fit.

Rose Running, Ready For Early Return?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The holiday season in Chicago will be much brighter if the Bears take care of their business on the gridiron and the Bulls get closer to the return of the face of their franchise, Derrick Rose.

The Chicago Sun-TimesJoe Cowley reports, via sources, that Rose is just weeks away from joining the Bulls on the practice floor.

Rose is doing his part, he was “sprinting in bursts” after practice Monday, per Nick Friedell of It’s the latest step in a long and arduous rehabilitation process for Rose, who tore his left ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls’ playoff series against Philadelphia in April.

The eight months since the injury (he actually had surgery May 12) have been rough on the Bulls (8-7), who have scrapped their way back to the top of the Central Division standings after an uneven two-week stretch of basketball early this season.

An earlier-than-anticipated return for Rose, however, would do more than just lift spirits in Chicago.

“I think he looks really good,” Bulls center Joakim Noah told Friedell. “He looks great, actually.”

Noah has been one of the anchors for the Bulls in Rose’s absence, which has forced the Bulls to lean harder on their defensive fundamentals and to search out different catalysts to sustain them:

Aside from a major advertising campaign from adidas, Rose has stayed out of the public eye by design. He hasn’t traveled much with the Bulls this season and has not formally spoken with reporters since media day early in October. Noah admitted that like many of his teammates there are still times when he looks on the floor and still can’t believe his close friend and teammate isn’t out there with him.

“Of course,” Noah said. “I think everybody does. But at the same time it’s also knowing that if we keep working individually, as a whole, we’ll be better for the long run. It’s always about looking at the big picture. There’s a lot of basketball to be played and the exciting thing about it is he’ll be back.”

Even without Rose on the floor, Noah is in the midst of a career season averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists a game in close to 40 minutes a night. While it’s been strange for him to play without Rose, he is motivated by seeing his friend’s recent workouts because he realizes Rose will be back in the near future.

“I think that this season there’s been highs and lows,” Noah said. “First of all, it’s been different playing without Derrick, but it also makes you (realize) … what I love about playing with Derrick is I feel like it’s always more than basketball. Just him being from Chicago, it gives me more motivation and if things go well I feel like he’ll be back and that’s exciting. But right now we’re trying to hold the fort down and we’re playing as hard as we can every night. Win or lose I feel like we’re giving everything we got and I think if we keep doing that we’re going to have success.”

As valiant as the effort has been, the Bulls need a healthy (or as close to it as possible) Rose to fight for their spot among the Eastern Conference and league elite.

Report: Bulls, Thibodeau Talking Again

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — After taking a little summer vacation from the negotiating table, the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau have resumed talks about a long-term extension for the fastest coach to 100 wins in NBA history.

The Bulls have been standouts in Thibodeau’s first two seasons, leading the league in wins during the regular season both times. Thibodeau was Coach of the Year after his first season and finished second last season. You’d think there was nothing to negotiate but how long Thibodeau wanted his contract. But somehow, things broke down earlier this summer.

But with the start of training camp just weeks away, Nick Friedell of reports that the two sides are back at work on an extension:

Reports surfaced last season that Thibodeau was unhappy he did not have an extension secured. Forman then appeared on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000 and stated that talks had begun before last season and would resume after the season.

Thibodeau and Forman did not immediately return phone messages.

Bulls players, notably Derrick Rose, have been vocal in support of their coach. While Thibodeau has a hard-charging mentality, Bulls players respect the way he prepares and appreciate his work ethic.

ESPN analyst and Thibodeau friend Jeff Van Gundy recently told’s Melissa Isaacson that Thibodeau’s potential new deal “seems like the easiest negotiation of all time.”

“If I was (the Bulls) and Tom agreed to what (Oklahoma City’s) Scott Brooks got (a reported four-year deal worth approximately $18 million), the whole thing would take 25 seconds,” said Van Gundy, who hired Thibodeau as an assistant with the New York Knicks. “It’s a no-brainer … My thing is he’s an elite coach and should be paid like one.”

There’s no doubt about that.

Thibodeau is absolutely an elite coach, one of the very best in the business. And he’ll have to prove it this season with the uncertainty surrounding Rose’s return (and just how healthy the Bulls’ superstar will be this season).

Gibson Wants To Remain In Chicago

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — If he has his way, Taj Gibson will wear a Chicago Bulls uniform for years to come.

While many of his contemporaries have created ways to exit their particular situations around the league, the Bulls’ power forward is looking to make sure he maintains his with a contract extension. Gibson will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season but has no interest in testing those waters.

Gibson said as much Thursday, telling‘s Nick Friedell that whenever the Bulls get around to it, he’s ready to get something done:

“Really, it doesn’t matter (when it happens),” Gibson said. “I told (general manager) Gar (Forman) and (vice president John Paxson) how committed I am to just being with the Bulls. It’s not a thought in my head to leave Chicago because I love playing for the Bulls.

“I love wearing the Bulls logo across my chest. So that’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now. Right now, I’m just thinking about next year. Just come in and figure out how I can try to help the team better and just let the chips fall in place. A lot of guys tend to worry about that stuff, but I know I have a good agent in Mark Bartelstein and I have a lot of faith in what he does and I know I have a lot of faith in the Bulls organization so I’m just relaxing and practicing.

“I believe my future is here. Either mid-July or next year (for an extension), just have to be patient and just wait and see.”


No “Structural Damage” For Rose

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Bulls fans can go ahead and exhale now.

Derrick Rose has no structural damage to his back, per a report from A Monday morning MRI on his back showed no major issues and Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose’s back issues will continue to be treated on a daily basis as the reigning league MVP battles yet another injury this season.

Rose has missed five games this season with a turf toe issues and two others because of his back. The Bulls have maintained their position atop the Eastern Conference standings this season even without their best player in the lineup.

That said, in the day and weeks ahead, they’ll have to keep a close eye on Rose’s back to keep his current problems from lingering. Forman told Nick Friedell of that Rose will get around the clock attention:

“The course of action we’ve been taking we’ll continue with, and that is the constant therapy, the massage, and working with our medical staff,” Forman said. “You don’t know when it’s muscular like this. It could respond overnight, it could be a couple days, you just don’t know. But the positive is that the MRI was negative and structurally there’s nothing wrong.”

If there is a positive sign for Bulls fans, it’s that the MRI results didn’t show anything serious. But Rose’s fearless style of play will have Bulls fans holding their breath every time he makes a move.

In a compressed season where injuries to significant players have become a huge factor, the Bulls’ have already played seven games without All-Star forward Luol Deng, a lingering issue in Chicago looms larger than anything.

Daydreaming About ‘Melo

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The NBA schedule makers didn’t realize what they were doing when they sent the Denver Nuggets to Chicago for tonight’s game at the United Center.

But if thousands of people could daydream the same thing (or person, Carmelo Anthony in this case) simultaneously, it should happen shortly after tip-off this evening.

Anthony’s already been through the drill with the media that showed up for the Nuggets’ shootaround practice this morning.

Quite naturally, they wanted to know what he thinks of the Bulls, the prospect of playing with the Bulls, Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Lake Michigan winters, the food and shopping found around the city and whether or not he’d mind being neighbors with Oprah (fine, half of that was made up but hopefully you get the point).

Nick Friedell of was all over it:

“I don’t want to say this in the wrong way and then you all take it … but anybody would love to play with a guy like Derrick Rose,” Anthony said. “A young point guard, young star, get the ball up and down the court. He’s improved his game every year.

“You got a young big man in [Joakim] Noah. You got [Carlos] Boozer, right now Boozer’s hurt, but they’ve got a good team right now.”

Anthony admitted Chicago has a unique aura because of Michael Jordan’s legacy.

“Of course, what MJ [brought] to the city. Just the city itself, being a big city, the fans out here and just the historic value of basketball here,” said Anthony, who described Chicago as a top-three basketball city. “Everybody knows what Chicago basketball’s about.”

On a night when there are only a handful of NBA viewing options, we couldn’t have asked for much better than ‘Melo’s lone trip to Chicago (as a member of the Nuggets).


Rethinking The Central

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the arrival of Carlos Boozer in Chicago was supposed to dramatically shift the power in the Central Division from the shores of Lake Erie to the shores of Lake Michigan.

But what’s supposed to happen and what actually takes place are often very different things. The waters on both shores are calm at this stage of the season.

In fact, much of what we assumed about the Central Division race this season (we picked the Bucks as the surprise team not only in the Central but also in the Eastern Conference overall) has not materialized yet.

Boozer’s out with that broken finger. The Bucks have struggled. Byron Scott has the Cavaliers playing hard but they’re about what we thought they’d be without James. Two other teams that many people felt would take at least a small step up this season, Indiana and Detroit, have not. And the Pistons are on the brink of disaster, with internal strife and a new ownership situation compounding their 0-5 record.

As of this morning, the entire division is on a combined 12-game losing streak.

“It’s hard to pick any one team in that division right now,” an Eastern Conference scout friend admitted. “Chicago has the best tools to work with, but they have a new coach and really a new system that they are all trying to get adjusted to, plus they don’t have Boozer right now. I think they’ll be fine, eventually. I don’t know what to say about the Bucks. Andrew Bogut just doesn’t look comfortable yet. It seems to me that he’s still favoring that right arm. But that said, they could have easily beaten the Celtics the other night and then there’s a totally different feel about them right now. It’s still too early to make any definitive statements about how things will turn out for those two. But the rest of the division … it’s just a mess right now.”

Boozer did get the pins out (he broke his pinky Oct. 2) and the hard cast off of his hand earlier this week. He gets the stitches out next week, though there is still no specific date for his return to action, per Nick Friedell of

The Bucks looked better than their record against the Celtics. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sees some signs of hope where Bogut’s bunch is concerned:

A lineup that included center Andrew Bogut, power forward Ersan Ilyasova, small forward Corey Maggette, shooting guard Carlos Delfino and point guard Brandon Jennings – with help from Keyon Dooling – was able to take the Celtics to the wire in a 105-102 defeat.

Maggette, who ranks as the Bucks’ second-leading scorer (15.0 points per game) and is emerging as a steady influence off the bench, played 22 minutes against Boston and had 11 points and three rebounds.

But coach Scott Skiles also was happy to see strong contributions from Ilyasova (15 points and seven rebounds) and Dooling (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting) as eight players gained significant on-court time against the Celtics.

“I’m not the only one with this opinion, but it’s got to be based on productivity,” Skiles said of his decision-making process to dole out the available minutes. “Then it will just show itself to you and everybody gets a comfort level in it.

“So far we haven’t gotten to that point where we can count on the productivity of all the guys, at least to the level we’re going to need it at.”

Things will only get more interesting tonight. All five teams in the division will be in action, with the Bucks and Pacers squaring off against each other, so the division-wide losing streak will be snapped.

It’s probably too soon to scrap our initial predictions — we’ll give them until Thanksgiving — and we still need to see how Derrick Rose and Boozer work together.

But we’ve got the eraser ready.